This is cage fighting, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) as it’s more properly known: a combat sport that embraces several different fighting techniques. There is a buzz about MMA – partly down to Alex Reid, the sport’s most high-profile figure in the UK, but also to a growing appetite for extreme sports. Venues as big as Birmingham’s NEC regularly sell out; cage fighting was the biggest-selling event on pay-per-view TV last year; top fighters command hundreds of thousands of pounds a fight. And it doesn’t stop there: ordinary blokes are now descending on boxing gyms and learning how to become fighters themselves.
So how would a woman fare in this aggressively macho sport? More to the point, how would I, a 5″2, eight-stone woman, cope? I went along to a training session with the BanDogs at a spit-and-sawdust gym in south London to find out. (By way of explanation, I’m competing in Tough Guy in the summer, a gruelling obstacle course boasting barbed wire, fire and electric fences, and as part of my training I plan to try out all kinds of tough sports – and they don’t get much tougher than MMA).